Michael Bourn replaces Ian Desmond in All-Star Game

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Ian Desmond is 2-for-2 with a home run today, but the league has announced that he’ll sit out the All-Star Game and be replaced by Braves center fielder Michael Bourn.

Desmond, who leads all shortstops with 16 home runs this season, has been nursing a strained left oblique for three weeks and decided the rest would do him some good. Since he doesn’t quite have the same profile as Derek Jeter, he can get away with it without catching too much flak.

With Desmond gone, there was another chance to get Bryce Harper on to the NL All-Star team. It would have been replacing a National with another National. However, the league went with Bourn instead. He has been the better player; he’s arguably the NL’s best defensive center fielder and he’s hitting .305/.360/.448 with 23 steals this season.

Another option would have been Jed Lowrie, a shortstop who has been essentially Desmond’s equal with the bat this season. The NL, though, still has two shortstops on the roster with Desmond out and it won’t hurt to have another true center fielder with Matt Kemp absent.

White Sox to extend protective netting to the foul poles

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Recently two more fans suffered serious injuries as the result of hard-hit foul balls at major league games. One of those fans was hurt at a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field earlier this month. In response, the White Sox have taken it upon themselves to do that which Major League Baseball will not require and extend protective netting. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The White Sox and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority are planning to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles, according to a source.

Exact details will be announced later, but the changes will be made as soon as possible this season.

If recent history holds, they will not be the last team to do it.

Major League Baseball has taken a laissez-faire approach to protective netting over the past several years, requiring nothing even if it has made recommendations to teams to do something. The last time it made a suggestion was in December 2015 when teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts and within 70 feet of home plate. In the wake of that recommendation only a few teams immediately extended their netting, primarily because if you ask a business to do something but say it is not required to do anything, it is not likely to do anything.

It would not be until September 2017, after a baby girl was severely injured at Yankee Stadium, that the rest of baseball was inspired to extend protective netting in keeping with MLB’s recommendations. Indeed, it was a land rush, with all 30 teams extending their netting by Opening Day 2018. While a generous interpretation would have everyone seeing the light simultaneously, my slightly more experienced eye saw it as a “don’t be the only team not to have extended netting by the time the next lawsuit hits” approach.

In the wake of the two recent injuries Major League Baseball issued a statement about how it “will keep examining” the matter of additional protective netting while, again, mandating nothing. Now that the White Sox are extending netting to the foul poles, however,  it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which other teams follow suit. Sooner or later, enough will likely have done so to create critical mass and make any team which has not done so to make the effort out of self-preservation.

Or, more generously, good sense.